Everything you need to know and the best deals for SSD

SSD monopolizes the Consumer Computing Storage and when you buy a new computer you will find that 99% of them are already using these solid state drives. The same goes for retail. When you renew your equipment, there are few components that can give you such a huge improvement that you can revive it or extend its life.

And is it true that our old and popular hard drives made internal storage a “bottleneck” in terms of performance? SSD made particular improvements to this section, and anyone who has upgraded a PC will find greater fluidity when starting the operating system or applications, transferring files in the device itself or to other internal or external files, and recovering the computer got out of sleep mode.

Its advantages are also relevant in terms of Consumption, heat emission or noise development Due to the lack of moving parts of a mechanical unit, while in another important part, such as e.g. B. Robustness and resistance to failure, SSDs in sections such as the mean time between failures or the five-year guarantee in most series in the medium range.

Also to be emphasized is the great versatility of use due to the number of formats and very small size to be installed on any type of equipment.

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In conclusion, and to start with, look for SSD when you want the best option for storage in both new devices and renovations. We make the exception of use cases where a lot of storage space is required and we have limited budgets. In these establishments, you can bet on hybrid systems (SSD + HDD) as the price per GB is the large area where hard drives dominate.

We’re updating one of our great guides with everything a user should know when buying an SSD and pick the best deal among those available.

SSD vs HDD

Solid-state drives serve the same purpose as hard drives: Save data and files permanently. In this way, and compared to other types of storage such as RAM, the data in an SSD is retained even when we turn off the device. By storing data in non-volatile memories, you do not need a constant power supply or batteries to avoid the loss of stored data even in the event of sudden PC power outages.

The design of a typical SSD is much simpler than that of a hard drive. It consists of an electronic circuit board (PCB) on which there is a variable number of NAND flash memory chips, the basis of these units and on which the data is stored. They also need an additional chip to act as a controller and an interface through which they connect to the rest of the device.

Before a hard drive with magnetic disks, rotating disks and a needle, which is necessary for reading and writing data, that the disks rotate in the right place first, the structure of an SSD changes completely and with it its great advantages. Has no mechanical or moving parts and uses an electrical cell system to send and receive data. These grids are divided into sections called “pages”. The data is saved on these pages. Pages are grouped into “blocks”.

If you want to deal with the internal technology of the SSD and its position among the other memories of the architecture of a computer (RAM and cache), we recommend that you read this special about the operation of the SSD, in which we explain it in detail. You should know that one of the theoretical drawbacks of these drives compared to hard drives is that flash memory can only hold a limited number of writes before the end of its useful life.

Because of this, SSD contains groups of free storage that can be used when the others fail. In practice, the flawless useful life and shelf life are similar between the two formats.

SSD formats

The most popular and versatile format is the one that uses the same standards as the smallest hard drives 2.5 inches. Massively expanded, you can find it on every desktop computer and most laptops. If you plan to mount it on a laptop, you need to make sure that its height is supported as there are 9.5mm and 7mm thick units. All existing models work for you in a PC tower and can be installed in 2.5-inch bays and in 3.5-inch bays with an adapter.

The second format that must be evaluated when purchasing an SSD is called M.2. It is much more modern and smaller than the previous 2.5 to 3.5 inches and is marketed in different flavors. The most common, however, is the 2280, which measures 80 x 22 and 3.5 mm. Another variant is mSATA, even smaller than the previous one (50.8 mm x 29.85 mm x 4.5 mm) but less spread out.

M.2 PCIe and a SATA installed on the same card

M.2 is the format introduced in the industry and the format recommended for motherboards that support it. The downside to a 2.5-inch SSD is precisely that they are less versatile as there are millions of older computers that don’t support them. The performance range is the same as long as they use the same SATA interface, although it is much higher when using PCIe, as we shall see later, which the former cannot.

A third format that we can find for desktop computers is that of Type card inserted directly into a PCI slot Motherboard. This format includes the units that mount their chips directly on the card or when used as an accessory to be able to mount the previous M.2 cards on cards without a special connector. They’re just as fast as M.2 when using PCIe, but they tend to be a bit more expensive and aren’t the most commonly used.

In fact, supply has been kept to a minimum in this format, and the industry is banking on M.2, which is supported in 100% of new motherboards for desktop PCs and in most laptops.

SATA vs PCIe

We must not confuse the previous section of the format with the interface, which deals with the interconnect bus used by an SSD. The most widely used and supported is known as SATA ((Serial Advanced Technology Attachment), who has been with us since 2003. The second interface used in SSD is PCIe. More modern, it offers much higher performance and everything indicates that in the medium term it will be the only bus for the future of the PC.

The 2.5-inch drives can only be connected to a SATA bus, while the M.2 mostly opt for PCIe. There are M.2 to SATA ports as well, but their adoption has been minimal and today they have practically disappeared.

Not all SSDs offer the same performance, even under the same connection bus, derived from the storage devices used and especially from their controller. The user who buys an SSD today shouldn’t settle for anything less than a drive that doesn’t reach 500MB per second in data transfer speeds for both reading and writing over SATA. There are very cheap SSDs that lower this data especially in writing. Avoid them, they are not worth it.

M.2s with PCIe are the fastest drives you’ll find in solid consumer storage. They use the native PCI-e interface too Shoot your achievement up to a theoretical maximum of ten times that of SATA-attached solid-state drives and twenty times that of hard drives (even more the new PCIe 4.0). Although the price was prohibitive for mass consumption in the beginning, the distances have been greatly reduced compared to SATA, as you will see at the end of the offer to buy an SSD.

It’s also good to know that M.2 PCIe SSDs support the standard NVM ExpressThey were designed from the ground up and take advantage of the low latency and parallelism of PCI Express SSDs. They offer spectacular performance and make the drive bootable so you can do without other storage drives entirely.

If you are looking to buy this type of SSD to fully replace hard drives, make sure your motherboard supports NVMe protocol or can be upgraded to make the device bootable. You won’t have a problem with new motherboards as they are all supported.

How long does an SSD last?

This is the question that potential buyers ask and it has a quick answer: the same as hard drives. Despite their mechanical components, hard drives have stood out for their outstanding properties resistance and hence its massive use in 24/7 data centers, where reliability is paramount. In addition, these environments require testing and certification that can take months and years to complete. Hence, business adoption of SSD is significantly lower than that of consumers. It’s just a matter of time and they will prevail.

SSDs are also more prone to Power outages while the drive is running, resulting in data corruption or even complete device failure. This does not mean that an SSD will last less than a hard drive, as newer generations have improved reliability significantly and massive endurance tests have shown that they can support writes greater than 2 petabytes. A huge amount of data that a user would complete under real conditions (normal use) would take tens of years.

In addition, all modern SSDs contain free additional memory cells in case the others fail (this type of memory with a limited number of writes is something of its own). Don’t lose capacity or suffer errors by reallocating the bad sectors.

It should be noted that in the latest generations of SSDs, manufacturers rely on NAND TLC flash memory, triple level per cell and QLC or quad core per cell will be the following. This technology increases storage density and lowers costs, but reduces the durability of previous formats such as MLC and especially SLC. Single layer cell, that only stores one bit per cell and that has practically disappeared from the consumer market.

To compensate, the best manufacturers have increased the guarantee up to 5 years in consumer unitsThere are professional models with a guarantee of up to 10 years. The official half-life of an SSD is estimated to be 5 to 7 years.

Where do I use an SSD?

Solid state drives, as we’ve seen, have advantages and can be used with any type of equipment on all types of laptops (including tablets) and desktopsEither by exchanging hard disks or alongside them in order to obtain more storage capacity economically.

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One of the most common use cases is installation in a laptop as a replacement for hard drives. However, we can also combine them if the device supports it. The same goes for a typical desktop. With this type of equipment, the more likely we are to have both PCIe and SATA ports and be able to play with them.

Note that the SSD should always be the first boot drive to take advantage of the performance. We would install the operating system and the main applications on the SSD and leave the hard drives as a second unit for mass storage.

The combinations are varied and It depends on each user’s needs and budget. If you’re limited, you can buy an inexpensive, small capacity SSD while you service the hard drives. If the budget is big, we would go for high capacity PCIe units and say goodbye to hard drives by using them as an external storage unit, for example. for mounting on a NAS or for connecting to the router to distribute content in the local network.

SSD offer (September 2020)

All the major manufacturers (Samsung, Kingston, OCZ-Toshiba, SanDisk-WD, Seagate, Intel … or the integrators that use the memory of the previous ones, like Corsair, Crucial, ADATA or others) offer a great offer and interesting models varies in format, performance, capacity and price. In the last semester since the previous manual was published, PCIe drives and the introduction of new models for the most advanced version 4.0 have seen a huge boost.

In terms of prices, after a constant decline in recent years, we expected a noticeable increase in 2020. However, the introduction of COVID-19 changed the situation, resulted in overstocking and the price of SSD has returned to its main downtrend as we see when searching for offers. It is a good time to buy these units with almost all prices from

We leave you a choice of the available offer, which is separated by the SATA and PCIe connection interface. We’re adding some external models, another purchase option that has grown in importance in recent years and like the internal one, has several advantages.

Internal PCIe SSD – NVMe

– – Samsung 970 EVO – PLUS. As one of the best-selling in this segment, it offers a performance of 3,200 MB per second in read mode and good prices. The 500 GB version costs 95 euros and the 1 Tbyte version is available for 170 euros. It also has a 2-byte version. Plus models cost a little more, but use MLC memory with a longer lifespan. The 1 TB version costs 193 euros.

– – Corsair MP510 Force Series – MP600. A PCIe 3.0 (up to 3480 MB / s and 3000 MB / s reading / writing) with different capacities from 480 GB for 92 euros and other versions of 2 or 4 Tbytes. And if you want more, the MP600 achieves 5,000 MB / s via the PCIe 4.0 interface and a good price: 127 euros for the 500 GB version.

– – Kingston KC2500. Another outstanding series in terms of performance / price with a performance of 3,500 / 2,900 MB per second and capacities of 250 GB, 500 GB and 1 TB from only 80 euros. (If you are interested we will analyze it here).

– – Crucial P2. A basic version (2100/1150 MB / s), but very cheap as access to PCIe SSDs, with 250 GB versions for only 52 euros and 500 GB for 71 euros.

– – GIGABYTE AORUS Gen4. One of the new drives for PCIe 4.0, the fastest in SSD, in this drive with up to 5,000 / 4,400 MB / s. The version with 500 GB is available for 139 euros.

– – Lexar Professional NM700. Average performance NVMe SSD 3500 MB / s read and 1200 MB / s write at very good prices: 59 euros for 256 GB; 89 euros for 512 GB and 149 euros for 1 TB.

– – Sabrent missile. Another PCIe 3.0 with good performance (up to 3450 MB / s read and 3000 MB / s write) and a price of 54 euros for the 256 GB version. It offers other versions of 512 GB, 1 and 2 Tbytes.

– – WD Black NVMe. Another of the big memory brands offers this PCIe 3.0 series with a capacity of 512 GB for 127 euros. (If you are interested we will analyze it here).

– – Intel Optane H10. Another one that we analyzed and that is special is because it combines Optane technology with the storage capacity of an SSD. You have the 1-byte version for 177 euros.

– Adata XPG SX8200 Pro. Another very fast one (3500 MB / s) that has a capacity of 1 TB and is priced at 155 euros.

Internal SATA SSD:

– – Samsung 870 QVO. Maximum performance with this type of device and with the latest addition of a variant with the highest capacity in the industry: 8 TB. It is available in capacities of 1, 2 and 4 Tbytes from 122 euros and we expect the 8 TB soon. (If you are interested we will analyze it here).

– – Kingston SSD KC600. New series that we could analyze that has the best features / price in SATA. It offers 256 GB, 512 GB and 1 Tbyte versions for 52, 73 and 132 euros. More recently, a 2TB version was added for 262 euros.

– – Ultimate MX500. 560/500 MB / s for another of the best-selling series, available for 62 euros in the 500 GB version. It also offers higher capacities of 1 and 2 TB.

– – Seagate FireCuda 120. A simple SATA with 560/500 MByte per second with a capacity of 500 GByte from 96 euros and additional versions of 1, 2 and 4 TByte.

– SanDisk SSD Plus. Another of the largest in the industry, acquired by WD, with a very affordable consumer series offering 240GB versions for just $ 40 and $ 480 for $ 55. The series was expanded by 1 and 2 Tbyte versions.

External SSD – portable:

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– – WD My Passport Portable SSD. Newer novelty: It supports the NVMe protocol and offers more than 1,000 Mbytes per second for reading / writing. It is offered in capacities of 500 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB from 159 euros. If you are looking for economy, you can opt for the previous version (without NVMe) with a capacity of 256 GB for 69 euros.

– – Crucial X6 – X8. Another novelty of the last few weeks is delivered in a square of only 6 cm and 42 grams. It offers sequential data transfers of up to 540 MB per second in read mode and the 1 TB version costs 156 euros. The Crucial X8 is the version over 1050 MB / s with a price of 170 euros.

– – Samsung T5 – T7. Small size, light weight and 540 MB / s performance. The T3 is available in capacities of 250 GB, 500 GB and 1 and 2 Tbytes from 83 euros. And if you want more performance, you have the T7 with a read mode of up to 1,050 MB per second. It is available in capacities of 500 GB, 1 and 2 TByte at current prices of 157, 236 and 418 euros.

– – SanDisk Extreme and PRO. Small, robust and very mobile, with a 250 GB version for only 76 euros. There is an option of 500 GB, 1 and 2 TB. In addition to the standard version, SanDisk offers “Pro” versions that increase performance up to 1,050 MB / s. The 500 GB version costs 137 euros. (If you are interested we will analyze it here).

– – Seagate BarraCuda Fast SSD. Small, attractive design and powerful general-purpose external SSD connected to a USB Type-C port (540 – 500 MB / s). It is sold in capacities of 500 GB, 1 and 2 TB from 94 euros. (If you are interested we will analyze it here).

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